A UN report says gangs are invading Haiti’s rural central region, suffocating a once peaceful area that served as the country’s food basket.

The report by the UN Human Rights Office of the High Commissioner, released on Tuesday, says central Haiti is now plagued by kidnappings, killings, and rapes.

It says only a handful of powerful gangs operate in Lower Artibonite, a region located north of the Port-au-Prince capital.

But the UN says a climate of fear reigns in Lower Artibonite, where murders, sexual violence, theft, destruction of property, and other abuses are committed against the population on an almost daily basis.

The body says gangs have laid waste to numerous communities with a sparse police presence and a lack of basic government institutions.

The Human Rights Office of the High Commissioner report says the situation in central Haiti requires a swift response.

The High Commissioner has also expressed concern about the delay in the deployment of a Kenya-led foreign armed force, which was approved last month by the UN Security Council to help the Caribbean nation bring gang violence under control.